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John Klein (Richard Gere), a Washington Post reporter, finds himself
drawn to a small town in West Virginia. In fact, his car dies, along with
his cell phone and watch. He knocks on a nearby house to call for help, and
the man who answers the door attacks him, saying Klein's been around three
days in a row. But has he?
Two years earlier, John's wife died from injuries sustained in a car wreck, and before she died, in an apparent delirium, she had been etching weird drawings. Could her drawings have some connection with this town?
Based on true events, The Mothman Prophecies follows John through his search for the truth. People in the town report seeing a strange being - are they lying, or are they misinterpreting? Are they simply seeing UFOs, or is there more to the story? Intrepid reporter that he is, John wants to know more - although of course his thirst for knowledge is accompanied by a need to know what happened to his wife (why did the car crash?).
Thrillers such as this one are hard to come by. It's not exactly a horror movie, but there are more than enough creepy moments to send a few chills reverberating through your body. It's a film that relies less on special effects than on such quaint ideals as character motivation and development and atmosphere. In fact, this movie's just brimming with atmosphere. We've all seen those cheesy movies in which a car runs out of gas along a desolate country road, and then BAM - some serial killers make dinner or belts out of the hapless occupants. But in this case, the monster is hardly ever seen, thereby heightening the scares.
At the centerpiece is Gere as Klein. I've never, ever been a Gere fan; it seems to me he has one expression. He's never been terribly emotive and has been known in recent years more for the age disparity with his female costars than for anything else (they get younger, he stays the same old dude). Call him ruggedly handsome if you will, but vacuity is never really appealing.
But this is not your typical Gere at all. He definitely turns in the best work of his career. Sure, he was appealing in Pretty Woman, but it was Julie Roberts' movie. Officer and a Gentleman? Ok, but that was Lou Gosset Jr.'s movie. Primal Fear? Red Corner? Runaway Bride? No, no, no. This is acting on a ledge for Gere. It's a true departure from the romantic comedies and the sly psuedo-mystery/dramas. Ordinarily, I would think such a movie would expose Gere for the terrible actor he is. But I would be wrong. This movie was so well written and directed that Gere rose to its level, rather than sinking it. That's a huge credit to him as an actor.
Now, I need to differentiate between good acting and appeal. An actor can look good or be charming in a role and still be a bad actor; by contrast, an actor can look uncharming and turn in a great performance. But what's key is how the actor draws the audience in - do they sympathize with his plight? Are they on his side? How good of an actor he is will answer that question.
Gere's Klein starts out as an average joe, and then we get to see him slowly descend into madness - we even descend a little with him. That vaunted atmosphere is so vibrant and realistic that we turn when he turns and feel things he feels. This is an absolute hallmark of excellent filmmaking (by Mark Pellington, whose only other big film was 1999's Arlington Road). The writing is crisp and eminently believable, and the acting in addition to Gere (including Laura Linney, Debra Messing, and Will Patton) is simply superb. And don't forget the prophecies part of the title, either; this "Mothman" entity issues warnings to whomever it deems worthy. Which sounds good, as long as one can interpret them correctly. Apparently, many have not.
The story is based on actual events that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, but this is no Amityville Horror story. With Amityville, one could distance oneself from the experiences of the family involved; we could say that it would never happen to us, it was only a movie. This is a little trickier with The Mothman Prophecies. It's a creepy, tingly movie that gets under your skin and crawls all over your heart.
The Mothman Prophecies is a solid thriller. It's supposedly based on
true events, but even if it weren't, it would be worth a look. Richard
Gere stars as a Washington Post reporter who inexplicably finds himself
in a small West Virginia town where a series of strange goings-on have
been happening. His wife was killed two years prior in a mysterious car
accident, and there seems to be a connection between her death and the
strange happenings in Point Pleasant. Holding the key behind the
mystery seems to be a large moth-like creature who tends to show up in
places where the loss of human life is about to occur. Gere meets up
with several locals who claim to have seen the Mothman, and after a
while this creature begins communicating with him. The creature warns
people of tragedies about to strike (plane crashes, earthquakes), and
Gere thinks this creature can even put him in contact with his dead
wife. Gere is given a warning about an upcoming tragedy near Point
Pleasant, but can he act in time to stop it? Or should he even try? The
film is very moody and sullen. The direction and photography are top
drawer, and they enhance the mood greatly. The acting is terrific, as
well. I usually can't stand Gere, but he's great in this film. Laura
Linney would seem miscast as a local cop, but by the end of the film,
she will have proved how truly talented she is. Will Patton is
outstanding as a local resident who has several run-ins with the
Mothman until it drives him crazy.
What exactly is the Mothman? According to this film, he's some type of oracle. He can see bad things that will happen, and he can even see through to the other side. Does he cause these tragedies? The film would seem to argue not. Though he may have caused the fatal car accident that took Gere's wife early on. Apparently the concept of the Mothman has been around for a while, but this film gives a pretty good explanation of it for those of us who had never heard of it before.
The film came up short of its $40 million budget in theaters. I blame this on a terrible marketing campaign, and some bad reviews from the big name critics. Don't let their reviews scare you away. This film is very good. I was hooked after seeing only a couple minutes of it. It was the very effective scene where Gere and Patton first meet up at his home one evening. That was well done! Be warned, however. The film will likely leave you feeling very mortal, and maybe even depressed. There is a really cool new-age rock song during the credits that also adds to the mood.
Consider this film a thinking man's Final Destination. The climactic scene at the end could have even wandered in from one of those movies. The Mothman Prophecies is worth about 8 of 10 stars.
I just got back from the first showing of the first day of release of The
Mothman Prophecies, and I am left with only four short words:
Go see it. NOW!
Simply put, The Mothman Prophecies is the scariest horror movie since RING, Since many Americans won't be able to see RING for quite some time, they should consider tasting another slice of the terror pie with "Mothman". It's already a strong candidate for best horror film of 2002...and even as a hardcore genre fan, I'd have to put it on my list of favorite horror movies of all time.
I had been fascinated by the Mothman myth since 1995, when I first read of its existence in a book of legends and folklore. Since then, I've often thought about making a horror film based on the story. And as you might guess, some one clearly beat me to the punch! The film takes some bizarre, allegedly true events that occurred in the mid-60s in Point Pleasant, West Viriginia and updates the strange phenomena to present day using a somewhat fictionalized story.
Richard Gere plays John Klein (a character that I assume is based on real life author John Keel), a Washington Post reporter whose wife dies of a brain tumor shortly after a bizarre, seemingly unexplainable car accident. After she dies, he finds pictures she drew during her final days, pictures of a bizarre looking winged creature with glowing red eyes.
Flash forward two years. Klein is on his way to meet the governor of Virginia, when his car breaks down. He goes to get help (I won't reveal the creepy details of this sequence) and learns that he is nowhere near his destination. Rather, in the space of 90 minutes he has somehow managed to travel 400 miles to Point Pleasant, West Virginia. There he encounters Sgt. Connie Parker (played by Laura Linney), who tells him of the many strange going ons in the town...specifically, the accounts of a bizarre creature from witnesses who are by all accounts reputable. She shows him a sketch that one witness drew of the creature, and it is nearly identical to the bizarre drawings Klein's wife had done before her death.
You can probably guess where the film is headed from this point; in fact, that's part of the beauty. Astute viewers will always be one step ahead of the characters onscreen, and one step behind...The Mothman, or just director Mark Pellington. Each is pretty damn good at scaring people.
Pellington his his second feature, Arlington Road, a top notch thriller along the lines of Rosemary's Baby. Here he goes for a more Twilight Zone approach, with the "did it really happen?" factor of films like The Amityville Horror, Snuff, and Cannibal Holocaust thrown in for very, very good measure. Pellington has been gaining quite a bit of critical attention for this film, and rightfully so. If he keeps up, one can see Mark Pellington, Victor Salva, and Alejandro Amenbar doing for the horror/thriller genre what John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and Dario Argento did for it in the 70s.
Some critics have been apt to attack the film for its reliance on classic horror movie conventions...as if this is a bad thing. It's quite ironic, considering that it is the film's good old fashioned sensibility that makes the proceedings so overwhelmingly effective. It does not rely on cheap scares, post-PC "gore", or loud sound effects to jolt its audience. The film's power is rooted in its fundamentally chilling story, and taken to another level thanks to Pellington's assured direction. He never condescends to the audience, and he never goes for anything less than the extreme. He knows how to push audiences to the edge of their seat...and fortunately for horror fans, he does not know when to stop. Hitch would certainly be proud.
Yet the best element of The Mothman Prophecies is that, like the films of Hitchock, it is intended for its audience, and continues to engage them long after rolling the end credits. The film has a wonderfully self-reflective structure, and a haunting ending (Owen Gleiberman's comparison of this film to Nicholas Roeg's Don't Look Now is much deserved). However, many questions are left unanswered. Many plot threads still hang. Like Bob Clark's unnerving Black Christmas, The Mothman Prophecies does not provide the closure that most mainstream audiences would demand. The audience is forced to think about the film, and what it means, long after it's over. Mark Pellington insures that the Mothman's glowing red eyes will indeed stay fixed in our brains alongside the film's other haunting imagery. So remember, grown ups and young people alike....sleep with the light on.
My Grade: A
In 1966-67 a series of weird, supposedly supernatural, events occurred
in or near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Much of what happened
centered on local residents' purported encounters with UFOs;
confrontations with "men-in-black"; phone calls from entities whose
voices sounded electronic (or metallic); and sightings of a winged,
semi-human creature that came to be known as "mothman". A few locals
also were made privy to future predictions (prophecies), some of which
in fact did materialize, but others didn't. One of the alleged
predictions was a December, 1967 disaster that did occur, and which
this film dramatizes.
Available literature suggests a high probability that some, though by no means all, of the Point Pleasant events were the resulting activities of a practical joker, a prankster, by the name of "Barker" (who died in the 1980s). Other events appear to have been too bizarre and too widespread to be attributed to a lone carnival barker (pun intended).
"The Mothman Prophecies" is not a very good factual account of the Point Pleasant events. Indeed, the film's setting is the present, not the 1960s, a fact which the film slyly evades. The filmmakers evidently decided to use part of the historical record, and then dramatize it, in a way that would have cinematic appeal to today's audiences.
And so, the film aims to be a supernatural thriller, a suspenseful study in the theme of what is real vs. what is not real. There's lots of dark atmosphere with offbeat, gyrating camera shots, ominous music, and dialogue to match. The overall effect is one wherein unseen forces are lurking in the shadows.
For some viewers, this supernatural tone thus provides intense escapist entertainment. For me, the hocus-pocus factor was too high, and the film exuded a sense of forced melodrama. Further, the film did not lead to any satisfactory resolution. What it did lead to was a nicely staged reenactment of the real life December, 1967 disaster.
Maybe someday someone will make a documentary about the men-in-black element of the Point Pleasant events. If the underlying research is honest and thorough, the resulting film could illuminate a 1960s drama that, while not supernatural in nature, had, and still has, implications that are as scary as they are real.
(**** out of *****)
What a wonderful and rich role for Gere who should maybe experiment more in movies that deal with the realms of the unknown.
A much respected reporter for the Washington Post John Klein (Richard Gere) is about to have his life turned upside down when his wife dies in an automobile accident that seems to have been caused by a mysterious flying creature which he never did see himself. The plot takes Gere to the Ohio/West Virginia border where he meets with the local residents who all seem to be having their troubles with strange lights, weird phone calls and a bird like creature which they call the Mothman. Klein investigates the mystery at the cost of his own sanity and career.
The film is very scary but lacks the pace and fibre that made the John A. Keel's book an awe inspiring read. There are no Men In Black, UFO's, alien impregnated women, phone tapings or a clear resolution to some of the character's fate. In fact only about 10% of the book is actually reproduced in the film. The other 90% seems to have been plucked from an episode of the `X-files'... but what a good episode it is! This is a film that has high production values. The lighting, camerawork, sound and editing are always on top form which is something that prevents the movie from disappearing into the ranks of science fiction B movie hokum. `The Mothman Prophecies' looks simply `weirdly' gorgeous on the big screen.
There is not enough Mothman revealed to the viewer but country folk Gordon Smallwood (the well cast and superbly acted Will Patton) creates a much needed conduit into the effects that the Mothman has on the people of Point Pleasant and this is what the film is really all about - The consequences that the supernatural can have on the psyche of a small backward town's population. Although the ending is Mothman free it certainly does jolt the emotions and evokes a sort of belittling sympathy for the human beings of this planet.
Watch this film and then go read the book for a much better look at really went on. All in all, the film is a spine-chilling riveting stuff and well worth repeated viewing even though it never truly escapes its `X-Files' feeling.
Bizarre, well-made supernatural thriller is all the more chilling for
the fact that it's rooted in actual events.
Washington reporter ends up in a small West Virginia town where a strange entity is foretelling of a disaster.
Although many critics harpooned this film for its seemingly aimless storyline, it's really a forgivable thing since Mothman is such an atmospheric and slickly-directed film. The direction is artistically stunning, with lots of colorful and frightening visuals. The atmosphere is solidly dark and mysterious, with a number of truly spooky sequences - particularly Gere's phone call from the Mothman. And despite the fact that everything is not explained to us up front, after all who could place logic to this strange true story, the film is a pretty decent gripper. The grand climax is especially dramatic!
The cast is fairly good, star Richard Gere probably being the best as our bewildered hero. The filming locations are good and the moody soundtrack is quite effective.
For those who like their thrillers a touch on the X-Files side, The Mothman Prophecies is a terrific choice.
*** 1/2 out of ****
This gets high marks for suspense alone. It is a very tense movie,
guaranteed to keep the first-time viewer glued to his/her seat. It
might even raise a few hairs on the back of your neck!
Dramatic music also helped with the suspense. In addition, we get some fine acting performances from Richard Gere, Laura Linney and Will Patton.
Don't be fooled, however, with the "based on a true story" tag line. It might be "based" but that could mean only a very, very small part of this film was actual; the rest presented for dramatic purposes. This film is a good case of that, from what I've read.
Nonetheless, it's interesting, has good visuals and decent sound and some genuine creepy moments. This definitely a film to have on DVD, as opposed to VHS, although I suppose at this point, few people buy tapes anymore anyway. Those looking to curl up on the couch with a good thriller: give this movie a look.
Starting off promisingly with X-Files creepy events (deaths and visions)
this young persons horror movie has a suitably tense edge. Based on a myth
last discussed in great detail in the 60s, this is a modernised version of
the legend of the Mothman, a mysterious figure who comes to people to
foretell disastrous events. There is an air of Saturday night channel 5
about this film, but don't let that discourage you as its in the upper
echelons of b-movie fair.
Richard Gere is surprisingly entertaining as someone who essentially doesn't say much and just gets creeped-out. A lot. His character isn't that challenging for any actor, so there won't be any Oscar gongs headed his way for this. Laura Linney is excellent as the town sheriff, like someone straight out of Twin Peeks. The other characters are pretty much just there to move the plot along, rather than to catch your interest.
The first half hour or so is entertainingly tense, but then the film lulls for the plot in the middle. The ending is satisfyingly and beautifully tidy, with a wonderful action sequence that clears up the vast majority of the weirdness from earlier on. The tight ending, while pleasurable and final is also one of the reasons that the movie isn't better than it is. There is no sensation upon leaving of question or edge. No concerns about turning the next corner for fear of what might be there. This is perhaps why this movie feels like Channel 5, and perhaps why its a 12 not a 15. Essentially its a creepy movie and not an out and out horror.
Based on actual events that occurred in the 60's. John and Mary Klein
are a happy couple who have just purchased a new house. The excitement
over their new place is short-lived when they have a car accident
following the purchase. Mary winds up in the hospital with a head
injury, but the CT scans reveal that she has something far worse wrong
with her. She eventually dies, leaving a devastated John to discover
that she had been drawing sketches of moth-like figures during her time
at the hospital. A year passes, and John is scheduled to do an
interview for his Washington Post job. On his drive to the interview,
he mysteriously winds up in Point Pleasant, West Virginia with no
recollection of how he got so far out of his way. Mysterious events are
plaguing this small town, events that may be connected to what happened
to his wife.
I first saw this way back on opening night and loved it. As someone who is really into the unexplained, myths and legends, this film is right up my alley. The story of the Mothman is one of the most fascinating I've ever come across, and while The Mothman Prophecies takes a great deal of liberty with the story, it's a terrific film all the same.
I've never cared for Richard Gere, but I fully admit that he's very good here. He nails the confused, distraught mental state of John Klein, and is very believable in the role. Laura Linney is also solid, though that's no surprise. The standout, though, is Will Patton. One of my favorite character actors, his portrayal of the rugged Gordon Smallwood, an individual who seems to have a deep connection to the Mothman, is absolutely perfect. This guy rarely fails to impress the hell out of me. He just has an awesome screen presence.
The abnormal occurrences throughout the film certainly produce an unsettling atmosphere. Coupled with eerie imagery and surreal filming techniques, they help the film become quite nightmarish. The use of sound is most effective as well, with all sorts of bizarre noises being heard, including the odd screeching noise that the Mothman was said to have made in some of the real accounts. We also get a moody score that's a perfect fit for the film. Just listening to the soundtrack is guaranteed to give you chills. I know from experience. Speaking of chills, one of my favorite scenes is when Klein speaks with the Mothman entity, having dubbed itself Indrid Cold, on his motel room's phone. It's a wonderfully tense scene, and Cold's voice gets under your skin.
The effects of the occurrences on the small town of Point Pleasant are well explored, as many different aspects and accounts are introduced. The town itself comes off as a bleak and unnerving place. Almost lifeless. The occurrences have basically killed off the town's livelihood. Gere's John Klein becomes increasingly paranoid the longer he stays in Point Pleasant, and when his dead wife appears to the sheriff, he becomes increasingly tortured. It isn't long before he's driven to a distant and isolated state of being, much like Gordon before him.
The climactic scenes do not disappoint either. The scene where Klein realizes what is really going to happen makes for a powerful moment, and the final scenes on the Silver Bridge are as tense and suspenseful as they are exciting. It's a very well-done climax, both dramatically and from a technical standpoint. A fine way to finish the film.
Overall, this is a deeply eerie, surreal piece of work. Nightmarish really is the best word for it. It also has interesting characters and some emotional moments. I'm a big fan.
The film is simply terrific, fantastic special effects, good plot and a really shocking and surprising ending! This is really a horror film mixed with a thriller that has respected my own perspectives. I suggest it to all the people who liked films like "The sixth sense" and "The others"...It's almost a masterpiece of his genre!
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